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A retired, reactionary British brigadier general searches L.A. for his missing goddaughter in this lugubrious would-be farce, a first novel from the author of Robert E. Lee on Leadership (not reviewed).

Nigel Haversham, the old limey in question, is on a mission to locate and retrieve his goddaughter from the clutches of dark, mysterious forces, possibly including a drug ring. Upon arriving in California he gets into a serious accident as a result of driving drunk, recruits two vacuous, unsophisticated young women to help him locate his well-bred, worldly goddaughter, needlessly antagonizes and gets trashed by thuggish black men, and goes to a club in blackface, which leads to his being mistaken for Don King. Indeed, much of the story concerns black and Latino men who are both ridiculous and dangerous, as well as the white women who must be protected from them. This is surely intended as satire, but its intended target never becomes clear. The old limey himself, who has the only point of view easily identifiable, is not only racist and reactionary but lacks any eccentricities or colorful traits that might make him an appealing—or, at the very least, interesting—comic figure. His episodic fantasies and reminiscences of the gallant brigadier’s life are stereotypical, lacking any color or texture. Since the other characters are also two-dimensional, this tale desperately needs a tight plot to keep things moving. Instead, the story ambles along a string of unrelated and unmotivated incidents. Only toward the end, with the introduction of a political group resembling the Black Muslims (the only black characters here who are portrayed as having some dignity) does the narrative begin to pull its saggy self up by the bootstraps and even display some humor. But it’s too little too late, and the twist-ending is clumsily cobbled on.

Silly, but not funny, and poorly plotted to boot.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-89526-232-0
Page count: 266pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000